Gen 15: Sacrifices of covenant: ie, Jer 34:18,19. The animals
were divided, and the makers of the covenant met in the midst to agree on terms
and eat together. Christ's sacrifice: the blood of the new covenant: Mat
THE WORD OF THE LORD: The first time "the word of
Yahweh" occurs in the Bible. See Eur 1:89-124.
DO NOT BE AFRAID (FEAR NOT): "For the eyes of the Lord
are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of
the Lord is against those who do evil. Who is going to harm you if you are eager
to do good?" (1Pe 3:12,13).
SHIELD: "Magen": small shield, or buckler. Perh, fig,
the sovereign, who is the "shield" of his people. First time used in Bible. God
is our shield: 2Sa 22:3; Psa 3:3; 28:7; 33:20; 59:11; 84:9,11; 115:9-11;
REWARD: Ref back to the victory of Gen 14. The mention
of "reward" turns Abraham's mind suddenly to God's previous promises: Gen
SOVEREIGN LORD (LORD GOD): Adonai Yahweh = He who shall
become the Lord, or ruler.
SINCE I REMAIN CHILDLESS: And knowing my "seed" will
inherit land: Gen 13:15.
THE ONE WHO WILL INHERIT: "Steward" (AV). "The man who
is over my house" -- from "ben (son) meshek (hold)".
ELIEZER: "Help of God". Did Abraham intend to help God
by naming an heir?
AND ABRAM SAID: Even with no immediate answer, Abraham
continues to pray.
A SERVANT (ONE BORN IN MY HOUSE)... WILL BE MY HEIR:
Notice the close tribal or paternal relationship between master and servants
(though not abject slaves). Eliezer was the designated heir, not such close
relatives as Lot.
OUTSIDE: In the fields, not in the city. There he could
find true communion with God.
STARS: An innumerable seed, ie Dan 12:3; Rev 1:20; Mat
13:43; Psa 147:4. Typ Christ the spiritual seed, in his heavenly exaltation to
God's right hand (Eph 1:20; Phil 3:20; 1Pe 3:22; Act 3:21). Ct Gen 13:16: seed
"According to recent findings, the number of stars in the
universe totals approximately 10 to the 23rd power (a number that also
approximates the sum of the grains of sand on the seashores)" (Hugh Ross, "The
Finger of God" 153).
"Our five-year-old granddaughter, Samantha, is quite a girl.
She is bright, funny, loving, curious, and generous. She brings us great joy
just by her very existence, and we are grateful to have such a wonderful young
girl in our lives.
"One of her favorite things to do is lie out in the yard at
night on a quilt, looking up at the stars with her daddy. A shooting star is
something she has always wanted to see but she hasn't seen one yet. Her voice is
sad but hopeful when she quietly says, 'Daddy has seen one, but I haven't -- not
yet.' This morning my husband and I rose early to watch the Perseids meteor
shower, predicted to be very visible and active between 2 am and dawn. We stood
together quietly on the deck, listening to the insect and animal sounds that a
night in the mountains brings. Staring up into the northeastern sky, I thought
about Sam, and I also thought about Abraham.
"Abraham lived almost four thousand years ago, on the other
side of the world from me, and yet I feel I know him. I read the stories of how
he loved and trusted God, how he treated his family and servants, his enemies
and friends. I have a picture of him in my mind.
"I thought of him because of what happened to him one clear,
dark night out on the open rolling hills of Israel. He had a visitor, a heavenly
messenger, who told him not to fear, that God was his shield and his very great
reward. Abraham appreciated that, I am sure, what could be better? But Abraham
admitted he was sad because he had no children, and at his death all his vast
wealth and possessions would pass along to a servant in his household.
"The angel then took Abraham outside and said, 'Look up at the
heavens and count the stars –- if you can count them.' Then he said, 'So
shall your offspring be.' How thrilled he must have been! Incredulous, too,
because he and his wife had been together a long time and were very old, past
the normal time for a couple to have children. He believed God, though, and God
gave him credit for his honorable, respectful goodness and belief.
"Though Abraham and his wife Sarah had to wait a long time to
have a child together, they did have a son, Isaac, born when Abraham was 100
years old and Sarah was 90. Isaac married, had two sons, and those sons had
children. So God kept His promise to Abraham that he would have children,
grandchildren, and so on and on, even up until this day. His physical
descendents through Isaac and Jacob -- one of Isaac's sons -- are the Jewish
people. His physical descendents through another son, Ishmael, and the other of
Isaac's sons, Esau, are the Arab nations.
"God also promised Abraham that since he was faithful in
leaving his homeland in what is now Iraq and traveling to the land of Canaan,
now known as Israel, as directed by God, that he and his descendents would
inherit that land and possess it forever.
"Now here is where it really gets interesting, because it
directly relates to you and me. In about the year 50, Paul wrote a letter to
Christians who lived in Galatia, near modern Ankara, Turkey. He told them this
amazing thing –- that all those years later, generation after generation,
Abraham was still gaining descendents, even those who were not physically his
offspring. How could this be?
"The promises were spoken to Abraham and his seed, Paul said,
especially meaning Jesus, who lived two thousand years after his ancestor
"Jesus was a descendent from Abraham, through one of Abraham's
great-grandsons, Judah. But Jesus did not marry and have children, so how does
this connect with us?
"We look to Paul again to explain what he meant. 'If you have
been baptized into Christ, then you have clothed yourself with Christ...' he
said. 'If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and an heir
according to the promise.'
"To belong to Christ, we accept that he was and is the son of
God who presented himself as a pure, living sacrifice, and that with his blood
he purchased men and women for God from every tribe and language and people and
nation. After baptism, symbolizing our regret for our shortcomings, and
recognition that we need to follow Jesus in dying to this life, we rise up
joyfully to a new life. Belonging to Christ, we are adopted into his 'family' as
heirs to the promises. We are become one of Abraham's multitudinous offspring --
one of those many stars he looked up at so long ago, and marveled, 'I'm going to
have that many descendents -- incredible!'
"I have made that decision, to be one belonging to Christ, and
thus am one of Abraham's children. And so, as I looked up at that brilliant sky
this morning, I thought to myself, 'by the grace of God and the love of Christ,
I am one of those stars you love so much, Sam –- your grandmother is one
of those stars!' " (Sharee Grazda).
BELIEVED: Lit, "rested upon". Lesson: Rom 4:18-23.
Complete belief shown later, in sacrifice of Isaac (Gen 22): cp Jam 2:21. Also,
Rom 10:17; Heb 11:1.
CREDITED IT TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS: Said of only two
men: Abraham and Phinehas (Psa 106:30,31). God could have determined that other
aspects of Abram's life (such as good works) be reckoned as righteousness, but
he chose to look upon "faith" in that way. The reasons: (a) True faith is a
harder thing to manifest than are good works. Good works depend on self, on that
which is seen, whereas faith does not. (b) Faith depends on God and sees the
invisible as more real than what is seen with the literal eyes (2Co 4:18). And
(c) faith glorifies God as the one who fulfills His promises, whereas works tend
to glorify the doer of the works. See Elp 259,260.
Separation for a purpose!
Abraham has already believed (v 6): "Lord, I believe. Help my
unbelief." Requests for such signs are not inconsistent with the conviction of
faith: Gen 24:13,14; Jdg 6:17,27; 1Sa 14:9,10; Psa 18:17; Isa 7:1-13; Luk
Apparently Abraham's request was acceptable, because God does
not castigate him for the question but instead confirms it (vv 18-21) and gives
Abraham other promises (vv 13-16). God at other times has acted in the same way
toward his servants.
All sacrifices point to Christ, who confirmed the Abraham
covenant with his death.
HEIFER: See Num 19: the red heifer. Ashes... water of
separation... cleansing, purification.
GOAT: The day of atonement: the scapegoat (Lev
RAM: Used for burnt offering (Lev 1:2). Exod 28: at
consecration of priesthood.
THREE YEARS: The age of maturity, vigor. The animals
were all cut off in their prime. The killing of these animals pointed to
Christ's death; Jesus was put to death in his prime, and after approx three
years of ministry.
DOVE (TURTLEDOVE)... PIGEON: Burnt offerings for the
poor: Lev 1:14.
From an ancient custom of sealing covenants: 2 pieces = 2
parties to covenant; worthy of death if break covenant. Carcasses = our bodies
and lives, divided so that the fire (God's spirit and purpose) may more easily
reach each part (cp Heb 4:12; Rom 12;1,2). The covenant: Heb 9:16n.
BIRDS OF PREY (FOWLS): Repr Gentile nations: Dan 4:12;
Eze 39:17. Who would thwart God's plan if possible.
CARCASSES: Repr Israel: Mat 24:28.
ABRAM DROVE THEM AWAY: Protecting the sacrifices.
Abraham is willing to help in any way possible to forward God's purpose.
"Shall not we chase from our meditations those worldly and
sinful thoughts which defile both our minds and the sacred themes upon which we
are occupied? Away, ye birds of evil wing! Leave the sacrifice alone!"
AS THE SUN WAS SETTING: The time of Christ's death (Mar
15:33,34,42), as the Passover lamb (Exo 12:6). Mat 27:45: from the 6th to 9th
ABRAM FELL INTO A DEEP SLEEP: This was probably done to
teach Abram the lesson that the promises of vv 5,7 would only be fulfilled after
he died and when he was resurrected (cp Dan 10:9-11; 8:18; Rev 1:17). Also, Adam
was put to sleep so that Eve, his bride, could be taken from his side. This
pointed to the redeemed ecclesia, the Bride of Christ, being formed after "the
last Adam" died.
DREADFUL DARKNESS (HORROR OF GREAT DARKNESS): Psa
55:3,4: "At the voice of the enemy, at the stares of the wicked; for they bring
down suffering upon me and revile me in their anger. My heart is in anguish
within me; the terrors of death assail me." Terror of death, oppression by
It was not in Canaan that Abraham's seed would develop into a
great nation, but rather in another country (Egypt). Cp saints, developed into a
great nation in "Egypt" before entering the Land of Promise.
FOUR HUNDRED YEARS: The sojourning of Abraham's
descendants (from the call of their ancestor) was 400 years (including Abraham's
own sojourning: Heb 11:8,9). From call of Abraham to birth of Isaac = 25 years
(Gen 12:4; 21:5). Isaac at 5 years was mocked by Ishmael (Gen 21:8,9).
Affliction begins, and 400 years begin (Gal 4:29). Thus 430 - 30 = 400 years
sojourning of Abraham's seed: cp Exo 12:40; Act 7:6; Gal 3 :16,17.
IN THE FOURTH GENERATION: Jacob, Levi, Amram, Moses.
During the same period, Joshua had approx 12 generations: 1Ch 7:20-27.
THE SIN... HAS NOT YET REACHED ITS FULL MEASURE (THE
INIQUITY... IS NOT YET FULL): Through the longsuffering of God the Amorites
(which probably included the nations listed in vv 19-21) were given time to
repent, and if they did not, God's judgment would come. The 4 generations from
the time Abraham died were probably Levi, Kohath, Amram, and Moses. Finally the
curse came upon the Amorites, etc. in the words of God through Moses in Deu
20:16-18, demonstrating that they had not changed. Ct Rev 14:15: "Then another
angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting
on the cloud, 'Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for
the harvest of the earth is ripe.' "
Why the Amorites especially? Was it because Abraham was then
dwelling in the territory specifically inhabited by this tribe (Gen
"Man is in such a rush. God is not. 'Because sentence against
an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is
fully set in them to do evil.' God does not execute His work speedily. Because
he does not, many are led to thinking that He is dead. God told Abraham that the
'iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.' When it was full, and it took
hundreds and hundreds of years for it to happen, God sent His children into the
promised land under the leadership of Joshua. Evidently the iniquity of the
Gentiles is not yet full, but when it is, God will bring His children into the
promised land under the leadership of Jesus. In the meantime those who are not
wise think that God is either dead or doesn't care" (MM).
WHEN THE SUN HAD SET: "The sun will set for the
prophets, and the day will go dark for them" (Mic 3:6). The ratifying death of
Christ the Sun (Mal 4:12). Cp v 12.
FIREPOT (SMOKING FURNACE): Sym purification through
BLAZING TORCH (BURNING LAMP): Sym God's Spirit: Exo
3:2,3; Jdg 13:20. God's salvation: Isa 62:1; Rev 4:8. Quite likely the "flaming
torch" was the Shekinah Glory of God, revealed elsewhere as the pillar of fire
(Exo 14:24, etc). The cutting open of animals, after which some object or person
passed between the pieces, was a normal way to sig a covenant. Here the Glory of
God passed between the parts, showing that it was a one-sided covenant. God was
giving and Abram the receiving (although later on Abram did have a part to do --
Gen 17:10). This normal process of making a covenant is spoken of in Jer
BETWEEN THE PIECES: God only passed thru the parts.
Abraham did not. Thus, the covenant was unconditional on Abraham's part. It was
God who promised.
MADE: Lit "cut" (Heb "karath"): cp Jer
RIVER (of Egypt): "Nachar" = river, flood, sea, stream (esp
Nile) (Strong). Cp Gen 2:13,14; Exo 7. Nsw as "river (nachal) of Egypt" = Wadi
el Arish, a (narrow) valley in Sinai (Strong). These are not bounds of land
under Joshua: cp Eze 47:13-21 with Jos 23:4n. Jews' inheritance in national era,
based on law at Horeb, not covenant here: Deu 28:1-14; 5:3. (Also see FLD 299;
Eur 1:183; Elp 237-249.)